Kucherov, Ovechkin highlight early NHL award winners


Tampa Bay Lightning right winger Nikita Kucherov celebrates his goal against the Ottawa Senators. (Chris O'Meara/AP)

With the 2018-19 NHL regular season officially in the rearview, some familiar names appear as early award winners.

Here’s who has taken home some hardware so far:

Art Ross Trophy: Nikita Kucherov

Kucherov captured his first Art Ross Trophy after a historically dominant campaign that saw him post 128 points (41 goals, 87 assists), the highest point total since Mario Lemieux’s 161-point season in 1995-96.

His 128 points are also the most registered by a Russian player in a single season — Alexander Mogilny held the previous record with 127 back in the 1992-93 season — and happen to equal the same point total Kucherov’s league-best Tampa Bay Lightning finished with this regular season.

The 25-year-old became the third Russian player to win the Art Ross, joining Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin.

Expect Kucherov to be a heavy favourite for the Hart Memorial Trophy — awarded to the league’s most valuable player — as well.

Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy: Alex Ovechkin

Ovechkin secured a second-consecutive Rocket Richard Trophy after leading the league with 51 goals in 2018-19.

The Great Eight has now won the award eight times in his 14-year career, including four consecutive seasons from 2013 to 2016.

With every passing year, Ovechkin inches closer to Wayne Gretzky’s all-time career goals record, and, while the Russian has quite a ways to go before reaching Gretzky’s mark of 894 goals, it’s a record the Capitals captain has in his sights.

Regardless of if he actually matches or passes Gretzky’s record, Ovechkin has already solidified himself as this generation’s top goal scorer. His eight Rocket Richard trophies can attest to that.

William M. Jennings Trophy: Thomas Greiss and Robin Lehner

Greiss and Lehner were exceptional for the New York Islanders all season long, and it goes without saying that the team likely wouldn’t have made a surprising return to the post-season without the help of its goaltenders.

After combining for 11 shutouts and allowing a league-best 191 goals-against in 2018-19, the duo was rewarded with the William M. Jennings Trophy.

Given Greiss and Lehner split starts for New York this season, neither goalie will be in the mix for the Vezina Trophy. Nevertheless, it’s nice to see the pair get rewarded for their collective effort.

Regular season individual award winners still to be determined: Hart Memorial Trophy (most valuable player), Vezina Trophy (top goaltender), Jack Adams Award (top coach), Calder Trophy (top rookie), James Norris Memorial Trophy (top defenceman), Ted Lindsay Award (most outstanding player as voted on by NHLPA), Frank J. Selke Trophy (top offensive defenceman), Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (best type of sportsmanship, combined with playing ability), Bill Masterson Memorial Trophy (displays qualities of perseverance and sportsmanship), King Clancy Memorial Trophy (leadership and humanitarian contribution).

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